Believe it or not, 2015 will be coming to an end before we know. With that for many people comes a “New Years Resolution” and financial stress. As December approaches, it is important to spend some time reviewing the past year and making goals for the upcoming year. Some tips to consider when preparing for the new year are: budgeting, goals, financial literacy, and savings.
If you haven’t made a budget, it is a great first step towards achieving financial success. Budgeting can be overwhelming for some people, but just keep in mind that it is a process and requires both time and work. Use December expenses and income as a rough draft for your budget so when the beginning of the year rolls around you are ready to really focus in on your financial situation. Using December as a practice run allows students to have some experience at the beginning of the year, instead of being new to the budgeting process. This experience gives students a chance to start planning ahead for the upcoming semester, school expenses, or the opportunity to begin saving for spring break.
Speaking of spring break or education expenses, goals are a vital piece of creating a budget. The end of one year and beginning of the next is a great time to set some new financial goals. There are short-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal is something that you want to achieve within the next year and a long-term goal is something you want to achieve in longer than a year. If you had goals from the previous year, be sure to address the process of them. It is especially vital to review any previous long-term goals you had set. It is really important to make sure that any goal you want to achieve is a SMART goal. SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. For example, if you were saving for a new car a smart goal to achieve that could be: “I would like to purchase a new car by December 2018 for $10,000 by saving $188 a month.”
Making financial decisions can be difficult for many college students who are managing their money for the first time in their life. If you are feeling financially stressed, feel free to reach out and get help. A great resource for students at Kansas State University is a free individual counseling session with our peer counselors and Salt. Salt is the free online financial tool Powercat Financial Counseling bought for students and alumni that offers numerous financial articles, tools, and many other resources. A recommendation that is helpful when making good financial decisions is to find out what motivates you to make those decisions. Do you have a goal in mind when you make positive financial decisions or is it the feeling of achievement you feel? Either way, use that motivation to continue to find success in your financial situation. If you are unsure of what motivates you, try to really think about the reason behind the financial decisions you want to make.
Lastly, as the new year begins make saving a priority. A beneficial habit for students to establish is to pay themselves first. If you try to make it a priority to save a little bit of money each and every month before spending more the financial goals you set will start to become a reality. If you aren’t sure where or how to start savings, start small. Instead of spending $2 a week at the vending machine, try saving that and at the end of the year if you saved that $2 every week you would have a total of $104 of just vending machine money each year!
Although this can be a stressful time of the year with a lot of extra expenses, just remember to take a deep breath and plan ahead. The new year is always a great time to regroup and form positive financial habits. If you make a financial resolution, try to stick with it and the hard work will pay off. Powercat Financial Counseling is here to assist you in making these steps as well.
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling